NASCAR Cup
NASCAR Cup
17 May
-
17 May
Event finished
20 May
-
20 May
Event finished
23 May
-
24 May
Event finished
27 May
-
28 May
Race in
01 Hours
:
04 Minutes
:
03 Seconds
R
Bristol
31 May
-
31 May
Event finished
07 Jun
-
07 Jun
Race in
9 days
10 Jun
-
10 Jun
Next event in
12 days
14 Jun
-
14 Jun
Next event in
16 days
R
Talladega
21 Jun
-
21 Jun
Next event in
23 days
R
26 Jun
-
28 Jun
Next event in
28 days
R
Indianapolis
03 Jul
-
05 Jul
Next event in
35 days
R
Kentucky
09 Jul
-
11 Jul
Next event in
41 days
R
17 Jul
-
19 Jul
Next event in
49 days
R
Michigan II
07 Aug
-
09 Aug
Next event in
70 days
R
Watkins Glen
14 Aug
-
16 Aug
Next event in
77 days
R
Dover II
21 Aug
-
23 Aug
Next event in
84 days
R
Daytona II
27 Aug
-
29 Aug
Next event in
90 days
R
Darlington III
06 Sep
-
06 Sep
Next event in
100 days
R
Richmond II
10 Sep
-
12 Sep
Next event in
104 days
R
Bristol II
17 Sep
-
19 Sep
Next event in
111 days
R
Las Vegas II
25 Sep
-
27 Sep
Next event in
119 days
R
Talladega II
02 Oct
-
04 Oct
Next event in
126 days
R
Charlotte III
09 Oct
-
11 Oct
Next event in
133 days
R
Kansas II
16 Oct
-
18 Oct
Next event in
140 days
R
Texas II
23 Oct
-
25 Oct
Next event in
147 days
R
Martinsville II
30 Oct
-
01 Nov
Next event in
154 days
R
Phoenix II
06 Nov
-
08 Nov
Next event in
161 days

Despite no fans, NASCAR's return still found a "positive vibe"

shares
comments
Despite no fans, NASCAR's return still found a "positive vibe"
By:
May 18, 2020, 2:00 AM

NASCAR will do an official review on Monday but the immediate reaction to Sunday’s first live race with no fans appeared a very positive one.

A worker cleans areas
Race Winner Kevin Harvick, Stewart-Haas Racing, Ford Mustang
Kevin Harvick, Stewart-Haas Racing, Ford Mustang
NASCAR official with a mask
A driver for a team hauler has their temperature checked
NASCAR Cup Series haulers are unloaded in the garage area
Atmosphere
Atmosphere
Kyle Busch, Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota Camry
Track workers paint logos on the front stretch

With all the safety protocols in place in order to restart NASCAR’s season during the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a lot of anxious anticipation as to how the event would play out at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway.

The fact the actual racing on the track ended up receiving the most attention is probably the best outcome NASCAR could have envisioned.

Veteran Kevin Harvick dominated much of the race, picking up his first Cup Series win of the season and 50th of his storied career. Although he was the series points leader when the series was suspended in mid-March, the win now all-but locks Harvick him into this season’s championship playoffs.

Read Also:

There were no issues of any of the nearly 900 personnel getting through medical screenings Sunday morning. In fact, the only pre-race issue ended up being Kyle Busch’s No. 18 Toyota failing pre-race inspection twice.

“From everyone we talked to in the garage area, the entry process went incredibly well,” said Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR’s executive vice president and chief racing development officer. “Everybody was here on time.

Matt Kenseth, Roush Fenway Racing

Matt Kenseth, Roush Fenway Racing

Photo by: NASCAR Media

“The cars were out and through inspection. The No. 18 had an issue. But in terms of everybody getting through inspection, the flow working well, the plan working well, I think everybody found their groove.

“Didn’t have to tell anyone or remind anyone to wear a mask. I think the industry really came together and did a tremendous job to enable us to get to the race. I think it just felt a little odd with the garage area because it was so scaled down in terms of personnel.”

The only issue regarding safety protocols at all Sunday arose about two-thirds through the race when NASCAR had to issue a warning to teams’ spotters to improve their social distancing.

In good spirits

There were several spotters who could be seen sitting next to each other in the grandstands where they were working on the frontstretch.

But generally speaking, while there were no fans to bring a typical festive atmosphere to the event, there was plenty of enthusiasm from the competitors, team members and officials, all of whom had not worked at a track since March 8 at Phoenix.

“As far as the vibe in the garage area, I think everybody’s spirits were really, really high. They all knew the effort that this took collectively to pull this off,” O’Donnell said. “This was not easy. But everybody came together in a real spirit of collaboration.

“It was odd with the limited number of people here. When you look up in the stands, you certainly missed the fans, that vibe, the energy. Even the music that was playing in the garage area doesn’t do it justice.

“I think the participants were able to create their own positive vibe knowing this was a big day for the sport, knowing it was a day we could showcase the sport to a live television audience and hopefully give some people a little bit of joy to watch them race.”

A worker cleans areas

A worker cleans areas

Photo by: NASCAR Media

Next article
Harvick grabs 50th win in NASCAR's return at Darlington

Previous article

Harvick grabs 50th win in NASCAR's return at Darlington

Next article

What it was like to be a part of NASCAR’s racing comeback

What it was like to be a part of NASCAR’s racing comeback
Load comments

About this article

Series NASCAR Cup
Event Darlington
Author Jim Utter